Blog | neighbourly

Lidl partners with Neighbourly on national roll-out to redistribute up to 2 million meals a year


I’m delighted to reveal that Lidl UK has announced the launch of their national food redistribution programme and support of #FundAFridge in partnership with Neighbourly. This will see all Lidl stores across England, Scotland and Wales donating food surplus to local food charities helping to feed people in need, equalling up to 2 million meals a year.

This national rollout follows a highly successful eight-week pilot that helped to feed more than 3,400 people across community centres, elderly day care centres, housing support projects and children’s centres in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Our food team will be linking each Lidl store, region by region, with partner charities that will be able to collect edible food surplus directly from the stores each day. The first 100 stores will be fully active by the end of April 2017, with remaining stores joining the programme throughout the year and into early 2018.

Alongside this commitment Lidl is the first retailer to sign up to our #FundAFridge campaign, donating over 100 fridges and freezers to projects that struggle with storage for the food donations that they receive. This will help improve their ability to safely store donated food, increase their capacity to sustainably manage more surplus and in turn, provide more meals for those who need them.

For us though, the most exciting part of this partnership is not just about Lidl’s adoption of a model aiming to change how the supermarket industry deals with the redistribution of surplus, but a step towards a more holistic solution for community partners – which is long overdue. As well as matching Lidl with local food projects, and campaigns like #FundAFridge, Neighbourly will be working to attract volunteers to help redistribute food surplus on a daily basis, reducing transportation costs for the projects taking part.

Our thanks go to the Lidl head office and project team that worked on the pilot and have helped to get this programme off the ground. Have a watch of this video from the Scunthorpe pilot to find out more about the impact the scheme is having on local communities.

Email lidl@neighbourly.com to register your food project.

Sign up to be part of the Neighbourly network here.

If you'd like to donate surplus food please get in touch at hello@neighbourly.com

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can donate time, money or surplus. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

Nick Davies


Jan 24, 2017

Businesses unite in a bid to make the UK economy ‘fit for the future’ by backing sustainable development


In an open letter to the Prime Minister published today, more than 80 leading companies, including Neighbourly, have united in a call on the Government to demonstrate its commitment to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals* (SDGs).

Ahead of the World Economic Forum annual meeting taking place on 17-20 January, businesses say they are ready to work with the Government to help deliver the SDGs in the UK as well as internationally, but that the Government must create a framework to help businesses play their part.

The letter, co-ordinated by UK Stakeholders in Sustainable Development (UKSSD), is being published on the day that the Business and Sustainable Development Commission publishes its own flagship report on the business case for achieving sustainable and inclusive growth, and quantifying the value of private sector opportunities aligned with the SDGs.

At Neighbourly we absolutely know that today's great companies don't just want to contribute - they're ready to collaborate and build a powerful coalition for change but need the support of government and citizens to help unlock society's true potential. So it's wonderful to see such an emphatic demonstration of a desire to work in partnership using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for success.

I believe the UK Government should seize this opportunity to work with business to help shape an inclusive community action plan that works for all. We look forward to working with this inspiring network of businesses, NGOs and academics to advance sustainable development and help facilitate the delivery of the SDGs in the UK. Read more about the steering group here.

Nick Davies


Jan 16, 2017

Algae, Blockchain and Communities: what you need to know about how tech is radically changing our relationship with food


Speaking alongside many leading voices transforming the world of food, Nick and I took the Neighbourly message to London Food Tech Week.  If you ever doubted that how we shop, eat, make and throw away food could benefit from the application of ground-breaking new tech, this event had to be seen to be believed. 

What was abundantly clear is that technology has endless potential to disrupt the way we produce, harvest, consume and recycle humanity’s most precious resource. But this isn’t just a nice to have – to cope with the increase in the world’s, population we’re going to need to more than double global food production by 2050, we use a landmass the size of China every year to grow food that we throw away, and while obesity relate diseases accelerate hunger persists.

Let me give you some fascinating examples of the solutions we saw. 

Many readers will understand the huge environmental impact of many of today’s protein sources. Microalgae certainly doesn’t sound that appetising, but that’s before the intervention of food technologists like Algama. They’re on a mission to integrate high-protein algae such as Spirulina and Chlorella into the food system to ensure future food security for all.

Do we really know where our food comes from? Block chain - a ‘distributed database’ technology can provide the un-tamperable continuous record from source, making fraud or contamination almost impossible – something the team at Chainvine are working on with the most treasured of tastes - wine. That Pinot’s tasting better already…

Taking on the issue food waste, Gusto creates recipes and sends you the right amount of ingredients to cook with. It's a simple solution that replaces a weekly shop, but means much less food ends up in the bin at the store or in the home.


But what about all of us, the consumers? How can technology educate and inspire is to change our behaviour, value our food and unlock society with that most sociable and caring of acts: eating together and feeding others?  

This was Neighbourly’s message, and it was incredibly inspiring to tap into the audience’s clear desire for more ways to play their part. 

We spoke about how Neighbourly Food is connecting supermarket surplus food with food charities. More than just tackle waste, we talked about how Neighbourly can support food charities with funding and volunteers. And how we can help people get involved locally, setting up and gaining support to feed people who are homeless, hungry, or perhaps just lonely and who need the warmth of company of breaking bread together. 

Food Tech Week was a huge success in only its second year with over 7,000 attendees across the 5 days. And as is often the case when we attend such thought-provoking events, we left wishing more people could hear the stories on offer.  

People like you, and I know we, should be more responsible about what we eat and how we buy, but we’re often unsure about what to believe and how to make a difference. Technology gives us a step in the right direction to tackle these pressing problems and bring us together through food.

Steve Haines

Head of Community Engagement

Oct 25, 2016

Food for London - setting the stage for a revolution in the way London eats?

#FoodForLondon Conf

Feeding London has stepped up a gear. Introduced by The Mayor of London, The Evening Standard convened a debate as part of its #FoodforLondon campaign last night, with the leading lights in the fight against food waste and redistributing surplus to reduce food poverty and bring communities together. 

Delivered to a packed auditorium at King’s College, made up of hundreds of people passionate about a better way of producing, selling and consuming food, the stage was set for a revolution in the way London eats. I, and our CEO Luke, were fortunate to be among them.

For campaigners and advocates of a more sustainable food system like WRAP’s Richard Swannell and Feedback’s Tristram Stuart it has been a lonely journey, fighting the good fight for years – even Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, known to many of us for his War On Waste, described himself as a Johnny-Come-Lately. 

But a critical point for me raised in the discussion was that the issue is beyond waste. It’s about how all of us value the food we eat. As Richard pointed out, we use an area the size of China to grow the food we waste every year – that can’t be how we value our food and the people who grow and prepare it, let alone the people who will go hungry tonight.  

Major retailers and producers must reduce waste across their supply chain. This will mean radical transparency, publishing their food waste figures, in detail. There are still only two retailers who do this – including Sainsbury’s, whose CEO, Mike Coupe took some flack on the panel, but credit to him for putting his head above the parapet. We still have no data standards here that could allow us to know who is doing the most. 

Home grown solutions will be needed too, like Rubies in the Rubble, which uses food surplus to make delicious jams and chutneys. Their Founder Jenny spoke eloquently about how she grew up in Scotland surrounded by this more practical, seasonal, way of cooking. The speakers agreed we’ll also need digital technology like Olio, Foodcloud and Neighbourly to facilitate and measure what’s happening with surplus.

And we need more ways of bringing together those who prepare the food we eat, like Henry Dimbleby from Leon who has helped create London Union, which brings together Britain’s best street food providers to night markets around London.

But ultimately it is about all of us - the consumers who can guide this. As Ruth Rogers from the River Café pointed out, we need a mindset change on how we choose what we eat, actively making choices for seasonal produce.

I’ve spoken to WRAP and retailers previously about labelling food - in the same way we do with nutrition statistics - about how likely the product is to go to waste. A small gesture, but it may make all of us think a little more about what we buy and what we throw away. Best before dates came up again – an issue I put together a session on with the Food Standards Agency earlier this year, with retailers, manufacturers and charities.To paraphrase Richard Swannell last night, ignore best before dates - ‘best’ is a matter of taste, the only critical date is Use By, and that means use by midnight on the date shown.

Our research with the Food Foundation showed the work of thousands of tireless community projects, like The Felix Project, who are getting food to where it is needed most, but the daily battles they face to get the support and practical tools, like fridges and transport, they need. It’s not just a matter of supply.

I am really proud of the food redistribution we’re managing at Neighbourly – this year alone more than half a million meals have been made for people who need it, from food that would have otherwise gone to waste. But I want us to do much, much, more - getting volunteers, funding and way more surplus food to the incredible charities in London and beyond. A solution needs to be simple, quick and transparent for retailers and it needs to support overall waste reduction. 

There is so much to do to bring us all together to collaborate, innovate and deliver. I want to see #FoodforLondon become Food for the UK and beyond – it’s a global problem, with an everyday solution. I hope tonight was a spur to the movement to end food waste, make sure that everyone is able to enjoy a regular nutritious meal, and support the people who produce, prepare and share food to flourish in London and beyond.

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can lend a hand. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

Steve Haines

Head of Community Engagement

Oct 11, 2016

You’ve got no time to waste: more than ever, the public is watching what you throw away!


Hats off to Hugh, he’s done it again, bringing the issue of avoidable waste to the attention of the public. Last night’s episode of Hugh’s War on Waste kept up the pressure, taking on paper coffee cups and packaging, while reporting back on efforts to tackle food waste.

On Wednesday I spent the day with retailers, manufacturers and government policy makers at the WRAP Surplus Food Working Group. There were great examples of progress in tackling back of store and distribution centre food surplus, as well as household waste. The good news is that we’re reducing and redistributing more edible food than ever.

But there is far to go. There is a still a hideous amount of food wasted in the UK grocery supply chain.  WRAP, the waste reduction body, estimate there is an opportunity to increase redistribution four-fold. That’s the equivalent of at least 360 additional million meals. 

So why isn’t this happening? A consensus is forming on the barriers: legal and compliance risk, lack of capacity to operate redistribution schemes, low public awareness of the positive work being done and financial barriers. 

At Neighbourly we are running a nimble food surplus redistribution scheme that utilises the Neighbourly site to connect 100s of stores belonging to major retailers with many small, local charities that go on to use the food to feed people in need, typically as part of other charitable programmes, including drug rehabilitation and youth centres. In a few short months we’re redistributed hundreds of tonnes to people in need.

 We’re actively working with retailers to take on operational challenges. Our time and motion study brought the process to donate food through Neighbourly under 1 minute and, we’re proving, cheaper than forms of waste disposal.  We’ve worked with the Food Standards Agency to bring industry, charities and policy makers together in a recent seminar to look at how to improve regulation and our stories of how retailers are making a difference are being seen by millions:

This autumn major trade publications and newspapers are launching campaigns on the issue of food waste. That means customers and employees will be making choices on where and how they shop and work. The Sustainable Development Goals have created an accountability framework for action.  We’ve aligned our project categories to the SDGs and can now report against these through our platform. 

 Public attention on this issue isn’t going away. At Neighbourly we’re here to help connect companies and charities, helping give good food to good causes, and we’re ready to do more.

Steve HainesHead of Community Engagement

Jul 29, 2016

We've announced new reporting features to support Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations SDG Business Forum in New York


Today we have added new features to our site, which will allow charities and causes to align their projects with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations. As a result of this, businesses and corporations which contribute resources, time or funds through Neighbourly.com can automatically report on the impact of their activities in support of the SDGs.

The SDGs - or global goals - are 17 commitments outlined by the United Nations, aimed at targeting an array of global issues in the sustainability agenda, including ending poverty and hunger, providing clean and sanitary water, making cities sustainable and promoting responsible consumption and production.

Our new website functionality allows for charities to choose from a list of SDGs and are then displayed on their profile. Businesses looking to support certain global goals will then be able to use the site’s search function to find charities or causes aligned with particular SDGs. Once they have contributed, the reporting features of the site will provide a consolidated analysis of their investment and its impact aligned to the relevant global goals.

Nick Davies, founder of Neighbourly, is today addressing the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York. Speaking in a session entitled: Business Agenda for 2030, Davies will be explaining:

  • How Neighbourly has provided a platform for collaboration between causes in need and businesses which want to help.

  • The factors that determine successful partnerships between public and private sector.

  • The results that have been achieved by Neighbourly and its private sector partners.

nickNick has said that, "Business wants to help. We know this from our own experiences and the evidence of big brands wanting to make a difference is all over Neighbourly". Everyone at Neighbourly, not to mention Nick believes that, "the private sector also needs assistance to make connections to relevant causes in the local communities they want to reach. Neighbourly is all about making that task quicker and simpler. By providing reporting for accountability purposes, whether for the global goals or other corporate social responsibility measures, we help businesses to make their contribution.”

For more information on the UN SDG Business Forum:

SDG Business Forum website: http://www.sdgbusinessforum.com

USCIB’s Business for 2030 website: http://www.businessfor2030.org | tiny url: http://bit.ly/1NknTeD

UN’s High Level Political Forum website: http://bit.ly/1BSEj9K




Jul 19, 2016

Say hello to our new project categories


We're excited to introduce our 17 new project categories! These categories match the new Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals) - a set of 17 aims, created by the United Nations to provide a focus for addressing the most pressing issues affecting our communities and our planet.

We're now using these goals to categorise the types of projects we have on neighbourly, and the outcomes they focus on. As projects are successful in receiving support through the platform, we'll be able to report on how local actions are all adding up to contribute to global change and how our thousands of small charities and community projects are at the forefront of achieving these goals.

So... end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, fix climate change - it might seem impossible for an average person to make an impact, right? Wrong. The Global Goals are indeed important, world-changing objectives that will require cooperation among governments, international organisations and world leaders. But change starts with every one of us. Every action on neighbourly.com now contributes to those goals - from just the click of a social share button to making a small donation of your time or money to support a local project that matters to you.

Outside of neighbourly, the UN have created a list of super easy things we can adopt into our routines that, if we all do them, will make a big difference. From your couch, your home or your neighbourhood, here are just a few of the many things you can do to make an impact with the UN's Lazy Person's Guide to Saving the World!

If you have an existing project on neighbourly, we've already given it a new category, which you can see and change easily on your project page.

Read more about the 17 Global Goals and their descriptions here.

– Jane | Content Manager

Jul 13, 2016

Tech4Good Awards: thank you for making us a 2016 winner!


To say we're honoured is an understatement, and before this post goes any further a thank you is in order. Winning this award is something we never expected, there are so many amazing people doing amazing things in tech and if you don’t believe me, just take a look at the finalists for this award. Each and every company on the Tech4GoodAwards list deserve the winning spot, so to be given the privilege of 1st place in the BT MyDonate category has blown our socks off!

t4gThe Tech4Good Awards are in their 6th year and were set up by AbilityNet with the help of BT, a number of businesses, charities and non-profit partners and sponsors. The aim of the awards has always been to shine the light on companies using technology to better the world and to celebrate each advance.

At Neighbourly, we're firm believers of working together to bring about positive change in the world so to be put alongside so many great companies with great causes gives us a really strong sense of family.

Thank you again for this award. And to all the other finalists and participants, thank you for believing in changing the world together.


- Matt Aldus | Social Content Manager

Jul 6, 2016

New research highlights UK food charities struggling to serve people in need

Today we published the results of a survey of charities and volunteer organisations across the UK which regularly distribute surplus food to those in need.

It's been published to coincide with the start of a review of the ‘Guidance on the application of date labels to food’ which commences today at a cross industry workshop hosted by the Food Standards Agency and Neighbourly with representatives from the Food Foundation, WRAP, food charities and major UK food retailers.

Conducted in June 2016, the survey gathers the views of 218 charities and volunteer organisations involved in distributing surplus food to those in need. Collectively, these organisations help to feed over 30,000 people every week, equivalent to 1.56 million meals per year. The survey provides a telling snapshot of the sector’s needs, but also highlights the lack of comprehensive national data covering the UK’s surplus food redistribution sector and its capacity to meet current demand.

Organisations responding included staff & volunteer led charities, housing associations, food-banks and other community led groups. The results reveal the striking challenges that confront these charities and provide an insight into the problems of tackling food poverty in the UK today.

The primary uses of food surplus were for emergency food provision (54.6%) or regular hot meal provision (33.5%), illustrating the dependency of large numbers of people on the capabilities and infrastructure supporting food charities, and on donations and support from the commercial sector. Organisations cited peaks in demand arise from benefit delay (71.7%), unexpected financial crisis (70.7%) and cold weather (49.0%). School and Christmas/New Year holidays were also major factors.

Despite being relied upon by 30,000 people every week, the survey revealed many of these organisations lack essential capabilities needed to deliver meals consistently and in times of peak need: 47.8% of organisations need more storage space; 40.7% need transport to collect donations; 36.8% lack refrigeration capabilities; 33.0% need better funding; while 28.7% need a more regular supply of contributions. Notably, lack of volunteers and retention of staff were markedly less of an issue.

In line with increasing awareness of the need to provide healthy balanced diets, the willingness to accept fresh food donations was high at 94.9%. However, probably because of the capacity issues highlighted above, while bread (98.1%) and vegetables (96.2%) were almost universally accepted, the numbers accepting dairy (68.1%), food ‘on the go’ such as sandwiches (63.3%) and meat (59.5%) were much reduced. This may point to the lack of capabilities identified earlier (refrigeration, transport), or simply the greater concerns around the safe handling of these fresh foods. The Neighbourly Food service allows charities to request not only food donations but also related help, such as volunteer drivers to deliver food.

The review which started this week will explore whether any improvements in food safety labelling and guidance, or better education around it, might increase the volume of surplus fresh food donated and used by the voluntary sector.

Commenting on the report, Steve Haines from Neighbourly said, 'The survey gives an accurate snapshot of the heroic efforts of groups across the UK in getting surplus food to those who need it most. Food surplus redistribution is a win-win for society. But we need to address the huge gaps in both capability and capacity. We need to help these charities and community projects get whatever is needed – whether that means funds, volunteer drivers to deliver food, consistent food donation supply, or the right tools and infrastructure – in order to better serve those in need.'

Industry leaders attending today’s workshop commented:

Steve Wearne, Director of Policy at the Food Standards Agency: “The FSA supports all efforts to make sure as much food surplus as possible is safely redistributed. That's why today we are starting the process, working with Defra and WRAP, of reviewing the date marking guidance, the aim of which is to make the guidance clearer for organisations wanting to redistribute surplus food. As part of our contribution to the waste reduction agenda we also launched an information campaign this week to help consumers reduce waste through making more effective use of their freezers.”

Robin Hinks, Research and Policy Officer at the Food Foundation: “This new data provides an illuminating snapshot of the vital work of charities and the voluntary sector in tackling food poverty in the UK. However, it also demonstrates that the third sector lacks the capacity to meet the nutritional needs of society's most vulnerable, particularly during crisis periods such as school holidays and cold weather events. To ensure no one is left behind and reduce demand for emergency food provision, government needs to: robustly and routinely assess the scale of food poverty in UK; consider the nutritional impact of its policies; and take a leadership role in safeguarding the diets of society's most vulnerable throughout the year.”

Dr David Moon, Head of Food Sustainability at WRAP: “WRAP’s recent quantification research has highlighted the opportunities to increase food surplus redistribution. These new insights build on this work, detailing some of the barriers that redistribution organisations face. Through Courtauld 2025, we will work with organisations including the FSA, Defra, and redistribution groups such as Neighbourly, to seek ways to overcome barriers, including better guidance on date labelling. This will deliver an important step in reducing food waste”.

To find out more about how Neighbourly are working to distribute surplus food, visit www.neighbourly.com/aboutfood. Since launch in December 2015, we've worked with charities and retailers across the UK to help share over 230 tonnes of surplus food to help people across the country. Also, visit the Food Standards Agency site here, to find out how you can help tackle food waste.

– Jane | Content Manager

Jul 6, 2016

5 Emerging changes to food policy

food policy

Ok, so not all of these are strictly to do with food policy but there’s so much happening on the food waste front in the UK and around the world, that it’s just too exciting not to talk about. Here’s a quick round up of five key developments that have caught my attention.


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1. We now have a clearer picture of how food gets wasted, and where it's happening.

New research by the government sponsored 'waste reduction agency' (WRAP) has shown that we could be distributing as much as four times the amount of food we are currently. The new figures show that the UK wastes 1.1m tons of avoidable food waste, worth a staggering £1.9bn.



2. Gleaning will change the way we think about food waste

Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers' fields after they've been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. 20–40% of food gets wasted before it even gets to the shops. Organisations like Feedback are running gleaning networks that help redistribute this perfectly edible food. They’re scaling up the UK Gleaning Network and need your help.



3. New legislation in the US is targeting date labelling on food in an effort to tackle waste

The often confusing labelling of food as “best if used by” or “expired on” is to be reviewed and standardised in the US. How food is labelled affects whether people think it’s edible or not, and doing this the wrong way means perfectly edible food is going in the bin, unnecessarily.



4. The Women’s Institute are getting back to their roots

83% of delegates at the Women’s Institute (WI) Annual Meeting backed a resolution to call on supermarkets to reduce food waste. This takes the WI back to its founding roots: during the First World War, the WI was formed to encourage women to grow and preserve food to help increase the supply of food.



5. We can beat undernutrition and obesity with sure fire policies.

The Global Nutrition Report which surveys 57 countries around the world has found for the first time that over half of those countries are experiencing very serious levels of both under-nutrition and obesity. It’s terrifying stuff for health services in those countries, but there are success stories showing it can be beaten with the right government polices in place.



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At Neighbourly, we're passionate about reducing food waste, and our work in the UK with M&S is something we're very proud of. M&S have reported that, over the past few years, they've reduced food waste by 9%, and it's great to be a part of this. You can read more about it below.



-Steve Haines | Head of Community Engagement

Jun 15, 2016